New edition published: A History of Political Trials: From Charles I to Charles Taylor

Laughland coverPraise for the first edition:

«A formidable and well-documented counterblast to a developing modern orthodoxy, expressing a point of view that many readers will not even have suspected existed, let alone read.»
(Anthony Daniels, The Spectator)

«A useful and controversial contribution to the debate about victor’s justice, and a valuable warning that international war crimes tribunals need to operate with precision and care.»
(Jonathan Steele, The Guardian)

The modern use of international tribunals to try heads of state for genocide and crimes against humanity is often considered a positive development. Many people think that the establishment of special courts to prosecute notorious dictators represents a triumph of law over impunity. In A History of Political Trials, John Laughland takes a very different and controversial view. He shows that trials of heads of state are in fact not new, and that previous trials throughout history have themselves violated the law and due process. It is the historical account which carries the argument. By examining trials of heads of state and government throughout history – figures as different as Charles I, Louis XVI, Erich Honecker, Saddam Hussein and Charles Taylor – Laughland shows that modern trials of heads of state have ugly historical precedents. In their different ways, all the trials he describes were marked by arbitrariness and injustice, and many were gross exercises in hypocrisy. Political trials, he finds, are only the continuation of war by other means. With short and easy chapters, but the fruit of formidable erudition and wide reading, this book will force the general reader to re-examine prevailing opinions on this subject.

Available for purchase here.

John Laughland is Director of Studies at the Institute of Democracy and Cooperation in Paris. Having studied at Oxford, where he also completed a doctorate, he has taught at universities in Paris and Rome. He has published several books including The Tainted Source: The Undemocratic Origins of the European Idea (1997), Travesty: The Trial of Slobodan Milošević and the Corruption of International Justice (2007) and Schelling versus Hegel, from German Idealism to Christian Metaphysics (2008). He is a regular commentator on international affairs on television and in the press.

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